York University has received approval from the Nebraska Department of Education to offer a concentration in early childhood education as part of its Master of Arts in Education (MAE) program beginning Fall 2024. This new concentration will allow students to add an endorsement to their elementary or special education teaching license to teach preschool, kindergarten, and up to 3rd grade. 


Education majors participating in the bachelor’s to master’s program and MAE students can receive the Early Childhood Education teaching endorsement by completing 18 graduate credits. Additionally, teachers licensed in special education can add this endorsement to teach children ages 3-5 with special needs.


Dr. Cheryl Couch, the director of the MAE, is passionate about early childhood special education. She emphasized the crucial role of early childhood education in our educational system. She stated, “By incorporating early childhood education into the master's degree, educators can gain specialized content knowledge and learn strategies to effectively support children's development and learning during their formative years. Early intervention can help level the academic playing field and build critical foundations for children's futures.”


This new program results from a collaboration between York University and the York County Development Corporation (YCDC). YCDC approached the university due to the county's growing need for additional preschool and childcare workers. Provost Shannon Leinen said, "Introducing an Early Childhood Education Program to York University's Master of Arts in Education is about supporting our community and its growing population. Additionally, the online format assures access for a much larger audience where it was previously unavailable. The outcome is access to quality early childhood education that will benefit future generations, especially those in remote areas. We are excited about answering the call, which will help meet some needs in the teaching shortage." 


This partnership responds to a community need and builds a strong foundation for children's education. The program will provide educators with the specialized skills and knowledge to support the development and learning of young children in our community and state. 


Dr. Erin Dehart, chair of the education department, said, “In the spring of 1994, the first class of education majors graduated from then, York College. Highlighting a new endorsement area during our 30th anniversary seems appropriate and marks York University's commitment to providing programs that benefit educators and students in this area of critical need and rich opportunity. I am excited to have this additional endorsement for our undergraduates to be able to add while they are completing their elementary education or special education endorsement.” 


For more information on this educational opportunity click here